Younger Workers Find Challenges Obtaining Disability Benefits

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), there is a 30 percent chance that a 20-year-old worker could become disabled before reaching 65, the standard age for retirement. While many younger adults currently receive Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) benefits, younger workers are surprisingly facing unique challenges in applying and qualifying for, as well as maintaining, disability benefits today. This fact should not be a barrier for young disabled workers, however, who need the benefits because of a disability.

The Challenges Facing Youth Seeking Disability Benefits

Various sources state that the SSA denies initial applicants for DIB benefits at a rate of about 75 percent. This is a daunting fact, especially coupled with the remaining SSA disability claims approval rate of 34 percent. According to the most recent statistics posted on the SSA website, the average age of disabled workers receiving DIB benefits in 2009 was 53. As if the application for disability benefits was not difficult enough, younger workers have the additional hurdle of age to face when applying for the DIB and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.

In 2009, over 8.9 million people received disability benefits, with about three million of these recipients consisting of people under the age of 50. That is just over 30 percent of all recipients, which is a surprising fact, all things considered. The SSA views any workers younger than 44 years old as a young individual, while people who are between the ages of 44 to 49 are still considered younger. Applicants between the ages of 49 to 55 are labeled as advancing in age, but anyone over the age of 55 is considered advanced in age.

The Age Factor in DIB Benefits

Like it or not, age is one of the factors the SSA considers after an application is received. If DIB or SSI applicants are able to perform work, even if it is not the work they previously performed, or they are able to be trained to perform different work, they will not be deemed disabled. Because it is statistically easier for younger workers to be retrained and hired in a new line of work than for older workers, it is more common for younger workers applying for benefits to be rejected. Regardless, younger workers should continue to try for DIB if they meet the requirements.

Age is one factor that may come into play as a younger worker initially applying for DIB benefits. However, it is never the determining factor, because if people of any age cannot perform any sort of work due to a disability, they will most likely receive disability benefits.

Applicants who are rejected for DIB have 60 days to appeal, and there is a good chance that the appeal process could bring coverage.

If you are initially applying or appealing a decision for DIB benefits, consult a Social Security Disability Law attorney in your area. Legal advice from an experienced Social Security lawyer could prove invaluable in these types of cases.